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(Signoff: Mailbag (Excess flood))
Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Hoooo boy! We've got a nice big update today, thanks to the flood of e-mail I've gotten (get the title of today's update now?). I got a few letters, as expected, in response to the April 1st edition, which I'll post up Friday. Also, I was forwarded a host of letters tonight, in response to the 'New RPGFan Owner' story from April 1st (note the date), which I took part in. Those are an amusing, if not vulgar, read. Look for those soon.

So, April Fool's Day. What a silly holiday, indeed. All over, people played pranks, us included. One of the more talked about ones in the gaming community has been The GIA's closing. Lots of people insist it's true, from current staffers to ex-staffers, to ToastyFrog and even the guys at Penny Arcade. Still, I'm skeptical. I think it's possible it's a joke, but at the same time, the whole deal could (big emphasis on could) be true, which I'd hate, cuz GIA is cool and stuff.

Schala was supposed to be doing a bit of Mailbagging today, with some commentary on some letters. She might even be back to doing entire editions again somewhat soon. The idea was for her to come back full-time, and I'd go... do something else. But, dammit, I enjoy this, so we'll have to work out something between us. No idea when this will be though.

Now that I've finished rambling, let's get to the main course: Roast duck. Followed by some letters. Eat up!

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Final Fantasy X Semi-spoilers (but not really)

Chrono:
I'm probably the 2000th person to say this but Xenogears had the best soundtrack of all time. NGE also had a great soundtrack although 99.99% of it was already existing material. Movies based on video games have stunk so far but looking at how movies based on Comics have progressed! With exception to the first Batman movie, they all stunk and then X-men comes out and kicks some serious ass. Although somewhat unrelated, LOTR:FOTR was surprisingly good.

Lastly but no leastly, am I the only one disappointed by the ending of FFX? I mean, playing the game, I was amazed at the quality of it. The battle system was great, the graphics were fantastic, the new level-up system was genius, there was plenty of hidden stuff in spite of the fact that it was so linear all the way up until you were almost done with the game, and then it sputters out and dies right at the finish line! I suppose that's better then ff8 which stunk all the way through right until the end, then the ending rocked but still yet it is frustrating to see a game come so close to perfection yet falter. Doubly frustrating is the fact it is the last one player RPG of the series. Oh well, I guess there is always the Xenosaga series, which is looking to be fantastic!

A_fremen The RPG playin' desert dweller.

Oh yeah, one last thing, wasn't born in Riverside, but lived there for most life. IMO, great place to live.

Chronologist:
In response to your first paragraph, another thing that seems to work is video game to comic transitions. Both Sonic the Hedgehog and Tomb Raider comics are pretty darn good, if you ask me. Granted, the Sonic games are good and TR should have died long ago, which makes the appeal of the TR comic all the more special.

Oh, and FFX is NOT the last one player FF game. Square's as much as said XII will be more traditional, and they have no intention of taking the whole series online. We may see another online one down the road, but I think for the most part, they intend on keeping the series as a traditional single-player game.

You were disappointed? Oh, before I go on, if you haven't finished FFX, don't read the next part.

SPOILERS






If you're referring to the final final FINAL boss, yeah, that was kinda lame. And pathetically easy to boot. However, I thought the ending, plot-wise, was very good, although sad. I hope the supposed and obvious FFX sequel will resolve things, cuz frankly, I was really hoping for Yuna and Tidus to end up together. Yeah, I'm a sap.

Finally, yes, I like Riverside. I've lived here my whole life too, barring about 3-4 years in the next town over in the mid-90s. Why I felt like sharing this, I do not know.

 
Letter numbero deuce

Dear Chrono,

My favorite RPG composer would have to be Nobuo Uematsu. I still think FF VI had one of the best RPG soundtracks to date. The music really brought that game to life and never got redundant. In particular I loved how each character had his/ her own theme, it really added a lot of depth to the characters, and, through them, the story. I never really got into the FF VII soundtrack, somehow it always came across as very mellow. It's one I definitely have to be in the mood for, but there are a few standout tracks from FF VII. I liked FF VIII better than VII, but FF IX and X, to me, really shine. I really felt like FF IX had a strong current of FF VI running through, not just in terms of the more "fantasy" like game play but also in its music. I love disc 4 of that set, from the Airship theme to the ending theme! FF X, although not technically pure Uematsu, has a really wonderful soundtrack which I think a lot of people don't give enough credit for. Don't you think Tidus' theme is a classic reluctant-hero-from-a-small-town kind of song? Really beautiful. I don't know if that one was by Uematsu or not, but it's great anyway...

Chronologist:
Out of all the FF's I've played (4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10), the only one I don't own the full OST for is 9; I just have the one disc US-released one. I guess because of this, I don't have a good deal of the songs outside of this disc commited to memory, like I do with the others. Still, I like VI and X the most myself, especially some of the character themes. Though, of the two, FFVI still had the better and more memorable character themes, in my opinion. As for who composed what in FFX, the booklet with the OST does list who did each song, though not knowing Japanese, I'm not sure who's who.
So here's what's interesting: I haven't played ANY Final Fantasy game since FF VI. Yep, not even Tactics (which, by the way, also has a SWEET soundtrack!). Boy am I missing out... I collect the soundtracks purely because I love the music and I love what Uematsu did in FF VI. So since I haven't played any of FF 7 - 10, I think I have a unique perspective on how I interpret the music. It'd be interesting to play and see how well the games fit with what my imagination built from the music!

Some other composers I enjoy are Yasunori Mitsuda (I've only heard Chrono Trigger and Cross; I've played Chrono Trigger only), and the work by Hitoshi Sakimoto, Masaharu Iwata in FF Tactics.

Other video game soundtracks I like but I have no idea who composed them are Lunar: The Silver Star (the original SegaCD version); Shining Force 1, 2, and CD (only ones I've heard); and Lufia 2. Lunar still has my favorite battle music ever, anywhere - it's so dramatic, and the orchestra is awesome. Lufia 2/Estpolis... I've been trying to track down the soundtrack, but to no avail! I know it's going to cost a fortune from like yahoo auctions in Japan or something... (Sigh)

I'm not even sure there IS a soundtrack available for Lufia 2. I heard someone talking about it recently, but that's all. I'd imagine if there is one, it's one of the harder ones to find these days. Lunar was composed by Noriyuki Iwadare, who also did (of course) Lunar 2, and the Grandia games. While I like his work to a point, a lot of it kinda sounds the same over and over, which gets old for me eventually.
Ok, so I know this was a long letter, but you seemed to be needing letters lately, and I've been wanting to write in for a long time, so there. Just a couple of quick questions for ya:

1. Do you know if/ when FF XI soundtrack is coming, and if it will be by Uematsu? It just seems so close on FF X, how could he have enough time?

2. If/ when they release Lunar for the GBA, do you think it will have the same music as the SegaCD version?

Thanks for reading this far. Keep up the great column!

Regards,

DragonNyght

1) I'm sure one is coming, though I don't think they've announced who the composer is. Though frankly, since Uematsu has been doing the music for the series since the beginning, it's natural to assume he'll be doing XI too. On the other hand, XI is far different from the rest of the series, so maybe not. Uematsu DID crank out a ton of music for FFIX, despite it coming out around a year after FFVIII, so it's possible. The poor man.

2) I don't think it's a matter of 'if', well, at least not in Japan. Over there, it should be out mid-April. As for an English release, it may happen by an unlikely source... Though that's all I can say about that. Music-wise, it's unpredictable. Since they're redoing the story again, it's possible they'll redo the music as well, or rearrange it. Too bad the GBA's speaker is less-than-stellar. Though I hear you get good sound if you plug in some headphones.

 
Mo' movies

In reponse to Tora Tenryuu,

I must Argue the defaults of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Now it might not have captured Everything that FF games tend to, but I think it was a solid movie none the less. Especially once you consider what the movie has introduced to videogames and movies. It not always about pleasing, but sometimes about, Pioneering.

For awhile now movies have been without great integrity. Videogame movies seem to be thrown out to make money. This is the con of just about any buisness. Yet today videogames have become an art, an expression of ones mind, and I love the idea. We are not taught directly by people (less we paid attention in school), but by some sort box. TV, Computers, Videogames, and we grow according to. In some respect what books were ment to do is a part of our everyday entertainment.

With all that said... FF7 would have been a cool ass movie.
As for Tomb Raider something was missing... More of a solid plot,but I wasn't quite sure.
Resident Evil thou... Great movie.

Vaguary

Chronologist:
I think maybe they should have pioneered a little less, so as not to cause themselves to lose a crapload of money, and sell off Square Pictures after the movie bombed horribly.

Final Fantasy VII would have been a great movie, I agree... but only if Aeris came back. :P

 
Pro - nun - see - ay - shun

Hey Chrono, first off i gotta say your doing a great job on the mailbag, and keep it up. Second off I got a few questions for you...
Ok, this may sound weird, but all of my questions are concerning the way certain rpg characters names are pronounced. Ya, you probably think, Does this geek have anything better to do than worry about how video games characters names are pronounced? and to answer that question, no, No sadly I do not. Any way onto the questions...
1. That ninja chick Yufie from Final Fantasy 7
2. That hippie tidus from FFX
3. The chick with the big... uh...hands from final fantasy 7, Tifa
4. The rpg world renoun badass, Sephiroth
5. And finally, Weltall From Xenogears.
Me and my other nerd type people I hang out with argue about these all the time, and I got bets riding on if Im right or not, so can you help me?
Chronologist:
This is a new one... While I'm not so arrogant to assume I know all these for sure, it's the way I say them, and insist to anyone else they're true. Okay, maybe I AM that arrogant. Here we go:
1) 'Yoo-fee'; I've heard people say 'yuh-fie', but that sounds dumb.
2) In their promos, Square refers to him as 'tee-dis', but that sounds really lame, if you ask me (though you didn't), along with sounding like human body parts. Wrong or not, I call him 'tied-us', much like the laundry detergent Tide, and tide, as in water. With the heavy influence of water in FFX, this seems more fitting.
3) 'Tee-fa'
4) 'Sef-i-roth'; I've heard a few for Sephy, ranging from 'sep-i-roth' to 'sef-or-i-ith'. Considering the 'ph', as in 'telephone', I stand by my 'f' sound.
5) Um... 'Well-tall'. :P
 
OMG A SEQUIL

It seems quite the trend nowadays to come out with a sequel (or even multiple sequels) to a game that may or may not have been that good. Companies seem to be desperate to form a series of games rather then to try something brand new with a new game. Using sequels as an attempt at name recognition obviously works as supported by the number of games that are sold when it is part of a series (case in point: Final Fantasy), but why?

If you play a game that was plain bad, and a sequel appears on the market, wouldn't you be more apt to avoid it? I certainly would. And yet even sequels for bad games seem to sell better than a solo game that are part of no series.

Has the RPG world become too generic that games cannot be made to stand on their own two feet and instead have to be part of a series to justify the blatant reuse of several tired features? Maybe that's it. Maybe sequels are used less for name recognition and more as an excuse to reuse the same town names and engines.

It does make one wonder...

-Flik

Chronologist:
I'm not sure how many games have done that... From my experience, oftentimes a sequel, unless it's been changed drastically from the original in terms of gameplay, improves on the first game's faults. Gimme some examples, cause I'm drawing blanks. :P Well, there is Legaia, which overall, was not well-liked, and I hear part 2 isn't so hot.
 
Bloody hell.

Psh, you missed two out of five, how very sad. I was expecting more of you, dear Chrono, really I was. Duke Mercator was the baddie from the Genesis classic "Landstalker", while Bilan was the ever changing villain from the pseudo-sequel to Landstalker, "Dark Savior". So you've made me lower my supreme intellect once again to your meager little level. But I'm generous. I'm benevolent. I take pity on you Mac Child, so I'll give you some easier boss baddies this time. Don't fail me, it would make this Guy weep.

1) Zeon - Genesis

2) Giygas - SNES

3) Esturk - NES

4) Barbarossa - PSX

5) Madruk - Saturn

But what's this? My pity for you really knows no bounds, so I shall return more to you than I have received by answering your "mailbag question". I'm most looking forward to a little title known as Xenosaga. Yes, yes, it's a highly cliche answer, but it is my answer, making it all the more important. I simply can't wait for the prequel to one of my favorite games of all time... at least story wise. Truly, I didn't much care for the rest of the game; battle system was tepid, gear upgrading was mindless, and Chu Chu? ::snort:: Hardly. But hopefully Xenosaga will continue on in the vein of great storytelling (albeing a scosh confusing) that its predecessor brought to the genre. Until next time... don't screw up.

Guy Incognito

Chronologist:
Don't expect much of a prequel in Xenosaga. A lot of people bitch and moan about this, but considering Xenosaga: Episode I takes place FIFTEEN THOUSAND YEARS before Xenogears (Episode V), with 3 more main stories inbetween them, expecting a lot of direct connections between the two is asking for a bit much. Still though, it looks so be a solid game if you can keep an open mind and not expect another Xenogears.

Moving on...
1) Shining Force 2
2) EarthBound
3) Dragon Quest/Warrior IV
4) Suikoden
5) Dragon Force

 
Way too much HTML was involved in this letter. (FFX Spoiler!!11 (sorta))

LOL well you took my idea for answering the Earthbound question in the mailbag for last week..oh ya thanks for the nerd comment. hehe

Ok What game am I most looking forward to? Well its obvious Morrowind which should not be looked over by anyone by any means. Looks great and the fact that the game is open ended..brilliant. Of course we cannot overlook the game that will be the greatest of the year..Final Fnatasy 11. With the success of PSO and PSO 2 it has opened a new door for consoles that Square has walked in, laughed, and kicked everyone out to stretch it's legs. With the obvious fan approval, stunning graphics, attempted storyline (never works for MNORPGs), cool characters, and massive lands, we need not worry about this game going to the top in a matter of minutes.

Chronologist:
Actually... there's a few flaws in your argument here. You claim Square is going to, more or less, revolutionize online console games, despite the fact the game isn't out yet. For all anyone knows, it could end up a bore-fest. :P Though it is Square, so I doubt it, but I'd hardly be calling it game of the year already. And as far as online games go, I suggest taking a look at PSO on GameCube, which features so many new features and improvements over both DC versions it's not even funny. This one could prove better than FFXI. At least, I'm looking forward to it more.
LOL then let us think what the Final Fantasy haters will say...I will now list the top 5 comments of stupidity that I have heard over the years about an obvious great game:

5) "They are all the same! Go save the world."
--This is so stupid...you only even need to look at one Final Fantasy to see this is wrong..FF10, they wanted to end the endless cycle of death caused by Sin...when was the world in danger? Gee must've missed that part...

Eh, if you want to get technical, many many games are essentially about saving the world. So by my logic or yours, that's a bad argument for people to use.
4) "FF8 was terrible..the magic system sucked!"
--The magic system was great thanks...don't like it? don't use magic!
No, actually, you're wrong. It did suck. :P It was kinda fun eventually, but drawing got really tedious. On a related note, some gameplay elements like switching spells, re-junctioning, and having to set your battle commands (which were limited to a scant 4) were all really annoying. I spent over 100 hours on FFVIII, though I bet if I didn't have to keep messing with all that, it'd have been a lot shorter.
3) "FF9 was for kids, and they just took the whole thing from past FFs"
--Ok the only things they barrowed were black mages, Garland (FF1 first and last boss after he turns), and if you are gonna be like that chocobos
The whole Kuja - Garland thing was also blatantly stolen from Final Fantasy VI's Kefka - Gestahl scene. The 'Terra' thing, as I'm told, is borrowed from FFV. They also brought back specific classes for characters (ie only one person could steal, one, er...two, for summoning, a black mage, etc.) Besides, that was the entire POINT of FFIX, was returning the series to its roots, etc. And in that regard, it did a good job, however bored I was for disc 2 and part of 3.
2) "FF6 was the best!"
--LOL funny, more like FF4. I know don't give me the old school gamer lecture, but I still like it.
FF4 and FF6 are both 'old-school', actually. And I'd probably agree that 6 was better than 4. A bit.
*drumroll

1) "Final Fantasy sucks becuase the series should've died out years ago." --LOL ya it sucks so bad that they made FF 1-10, FF Tactics, FF Legends 1-3, FF Adventure, and FF Mystic Quest...and no one bought them right?

Heh, you count Mystic Quest...silly rabbit. DID anyone buy that game? Honestly? :P
Phew well that was fun, oh ya Chrono...have you ever played Shining in the Darkness? If so what was the last boss because I only got to play that game when I was really little by renting it and never got to the end..I would like to know. Thanks!

Dragon-Ball-Dan

PS. I got a response from Parn on the letter I asked, but don't you hate the X-Box...what were they thinking making very few independent titles and then having everything else be games from other consoles or the PC??? Buncha idiots at Microsoft..maybe I should get that wad of cash they make and donate it to this website!

Chronologist:
Shining in the Darkness? Nope. I consulted the mighty GameFAQs though, and it seems it's Dark Sol. Whoever the hell that is. So there.

Well, I don't hate the Xbox... I hate Microsoft sure, and think the Xbox is way too big, has a dumb name, is kinda ugly, overpriced, made by Microsoft, most of the games suck, the controller is too big, and the jewel on top should be clear green instead of solid lime... but besides that I'm fine with it. Sadly, I just read Toejam & Earl III is Xbox-exclusive, and I am therefore buying one. Woe is me. Hopefully by then it will have dropped in price. Cuz it sucks. :P

 
That's Panzer Dragoon. Two o's.

I LOVE you man! Ahhh.... err.... you know what I mean... anyway. On with the question!

When in the heck is the sequel to the the best console RPG coming? I'm talking about Panzer Dragoon Saga of course! If you don't have an answer, please use your gaming mafia connections to "crack a few heads" over at Sega, and get an answer. Use whatever means you deem necessary. That includes duct taping some execs to a chair and showing them naked pictures of Al Roker. (*shudder*)

- Scott Reiling

Chronologist:
I wouldn't hold your breath over a new PDS game, since Team Andromeda split up after making PDS. While there's a PD game coming to Xbox sometime in the future, it's supposed to be in the style of the first two games, more shooter-like than RPG. But hey, it's Panzer Dragoon. Be happy.
 
Closing Thoughts

Well that was longer than I've been used to. By the way, I forgot to mention it earlier, but in case it wasn't flamingly obvious, my update last time (ON APRIL FIRST) was indeed, a JOKE. I think most people got that (though I got a few e-mails that said otherwise), so I wanted to set the record straight.

So. Bye.

~ Chronologist (letters@rpgfan.com)



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